When I went to Bryn Mawr, many years ago when Eclipses were used to identify witches and women in white danced around the Maypole in bizarre fertility rites (oh wait, they still do that…) there was a movie theater on Lancaster Avenue that I would visit almost every week. 

It was a way to get away from the insularity of a woman’s college that was, in many ways, a secular convent where the buildings and the atmosphere reminded you of a Shakespeare play, the ones where the women got sent to a nunnery. I don’t remember whether it was a Budco or an AMC or whatever chain existed in those halcyon early ‘80s, but it wasn’t particularly special. Just first run movies, tasteless popcorn and sticky aisles. I loved it.

Then, the place closed for a while, but since I was no longer an inmate at the Bryn Mawr Detention Center, I didn’t much care. And then something wonderful happened: Someone decided to buy the place, refurbish it with some very cool art deco signage and designs, and turned it into a cinema art house which screened both first run movies as well as foreign language and indy films. They gave it a fancy name, the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, and I was in heaven, became a member, and went there often with my friend Jeannie. The added treat of a coffee shop next door which provided alternatives to tasteless popcorn was a big plus.

And then I read a press release this week from BMFI, announcing its intention to cancel a screening of an Israeli film. The reasons provided were dishonest, specious, and offensive. According to the release:

“Bryn Mawr Film Institute is not a political organization. We don’t endorse or oppose any causes. In past years, we have not regarded hosting a screening from the Israeli Film Festival as a political partnership or taking a stance on any issues. This was our feeling when we arranged the 2024 screening many months ago. However, as the situation in Israel and Gaza has developed, it has become clear that our showing this movie is being widely taken among individuals and institutions in our community as an endorsement of Israel’s recent and ongoing actions. This is not a statement we intended or wish to make. For this reason, BMFI is canceling the sole screening of the music documentary, The Child Within Me

“BMFI is a safe place for civil and nuanced conversations about diverse stories. For the well-being and safety of all patrons, BMFI will not be a location for anger and violence. For those who wish to partake in an IFF screening, there are upcoming screenings at other venues.”

There are several things that are so wrong with this press release, that one article and one columnist are hardly enough to explain the depths of the offense. But let me try.

First, the BMFI, while saying that it is not political, has in fact caved to politics. That is duplicitous. The fact that they have caved to politics is evident from the penultimate line, where it states that “for the well being and safety of all patrons, BMFI will not be a location for anger and violence.” The only people who are bringing the anger and violence these days are the Free Palestine protestors who are attacking Jewish individuals in our cities, blocking traffic, yelling slurs at the top of their lungs and bastardizing the word “genocide.” It is clear that the BMFI caved to these protestors, who have in fact taken credit for the movie cancellation.

So the BMFI lies.

Next, the BMFI is engaging in censorship, while pretending to do the exact opposite. The last line of the press release states that those who “wish to partake” in a film from the Israeli Film Festival can do so “at other venues.” 

As the Church Lady might have said, well isn’t that special. 

The BMFI is telling those of us who would have liked to see this film that we can take our bigoted carcasses elsewhere where, maybe, we can find similar troglodytes and genocidal beasts to share the experience. This is evident from another sentence in the release, which says “it has become clear that our showing this movie is being widely taken among individuals and institutions in our community as an endorsement of Israel’s recent and ongoing actions. This is not a statement we intended or wish to make.”

In other words, stupid people who condemn Hamas and what it has done to innocent Israelis who are responding to a genocidal attack on women and children, we don’t agree with you. Go away. And take your dirty currency with you.

So the BMFI takes sides.

I think that if we step back for a moment and look at this situation with apolitical eyes, if that is at all possible, we see an organization that calls itself apolitical deciding to bow to pressures from a very small minority of misguided people. If you were to poll the patrons of the BMFI, you would likely see that they oppose this move. The appropriate thing to do would have been to perhaps add a film about the plight of Palestinians, if you wanted to achieve “balance.” But that was not done.

What was done was to erase a film that had nothing to do with the conflict in Gaza and tar it with the same brush used by a tone-deaf United Nations. 

Late on Tuesday afternoon, before the film was scheduled to be screened, an injunction was obtained forcing the BMFI to show the film, despite its initial unwillingness to do so. That’s welcome news for an attorney who appreciates any time that a court can deliver justice that has been denied by a private citizen.

But ultimately, it doesn’t change anything. The fact that the BMFI was forced to show this film, kicking and screaming, is reason enough for me to never again set foot in the Bryn Mawr Film Institute. I invite all of you to do likewise.

Christine Flowers is an attorney and lifelong Philadelphian. @flowerlady61

9 thoughts on “Christine Flowers: The duplicity of the Bryn Mawr Film Institute”

  1. Yes. It’s the usual self-centered, me, me, me from Christine. As always, she starts off telling you what a hardship she had. In this case, being privileged enough to go to Bryn Mawr College and how they practically held her hostage there. How amongst the horrors and hardships of attending a Main Line college, she sought out refuge like a man escaping torture from a slave master at a local movie theatre. She then shifts to her overused method of misrepresenting what actually happened so she can feign outrage and absolute disgust over something relatively innocuous. In a nutshell, Christine makes the assertion that BMFI is an anti semitic institution that will take any opportunity to shun Jews and anything Israeli including their supporters while simultaneously supporting Hamas. The fact is that BMFI didn’t want to be involved in anything political that could lead to actual violence. It is reasonable that at this particular time, considering current events, hosting an “Israeli Film Festival” movie could in fact bring out some member(s) of the fringe who would at least disrupt the showing or at the most commit an act of violence. That is the extent of it. The perfect scenario would have been to show the movie and have additional security in and outside the premises. But this is a business, and neither I nor Christine are in a position to dictate how a business chooses to operate. But… in her usual fashion, Christine MUST find something to be outraged about. Christine is of such simple mind, she can’t (or won’t) consider that both Hamas and the Israeli government can commit atrocities. In Christine’s world, it’s all or nothing. Aborting a non-viable 1 month fetus is equal to stabbing a newborn to death and saying that Israel shouldn’t starve entire innocent neighborhoods to death is the same as saying that Hamas was right to kill and rape innocent Israelis. It was one of the first times that I commented on one of Christine’s “columns” in which she made dishonest claims about Jane Fonda and how she “helped” the Viet Cong which had been long debunked. When I gave her a counter point with actual facts she immediately shifted to me being anti- American and anti- veteran. This is how non-criitcal thinkers operate. The irony is that Christine is someone who actually believes a zygote is the same as a 4th grader and will stop just short of bludgeoning someone over it while actually reveling in the slaughter of Palestinian children. Just peruse her social media pages. In between the truly disturbing selfies and adolescent lip syncing, the rest is filled with the rantings of someone who loves children in the womb (in actuality hates women who have sex) and hates children on the ground if the ground is in Gaza. People like Christine can’t be reasoned with. It’s best to let them spew their nonsense on social media and just monitor them and push-back when called for. Rationality, reason and basic comprehension will never be part of their personality. The best we can hope for is that they just keep ranting and raving and don’t go any further.

    1. If one dares to question the Israel government Christine Flowers calls them a ‘bigot” and condemns them for “hating” Jewish people. It is disgusting rhetoric on her part and so childish. Regarding her nonstop tiktok videos and selfies where she’s constantly smiling at herself in a phone camera, I feel mortified on her behalf. Mind you, she’s not 12. She’s well into her 60’s. Her fake troll “friends” egg her on to make a fool of herself. It’s a shame that she’s not close to her family members or people who might tell her the truth about her disturbing behavior.

  2. Oh, how tragic! Christine Flowers is never going to step foot in the Bryn Mawr Film Institute! Just like she never stepped foot in Israel in her entire life yet is obsessed with the country. In fact, her tax dollars go straight to Israel to pay for their abortions. She’s fine with that. She’s just not fine with American women having any access to abortion like women in Israel who have safe and legal abortions on American taxpayer dime.

  3. How hard is it to understand that by not showing the film, BMFI has, in fact, taken a political position. It has accepted the fact that censorship is the preferred means of discourse in today’s society. BMFI apparently doesn’t realize or doesn’t want to recognize that, refusing to screen the film, then are accepting and promoting the HAMAS worldview. All the moral platitudes given the public about their decision not to screen only adds additional hypocrisy to their original moral turpitude in cancelling the screening. I am constantly amazed at the willingness of society to pursue Jews because they are perceived to be easy victims, how distraught and panicked are the bigots when confronted with Jews who fight back. By the way, what has Jane Fonda to do with this situation? Anyway, the picture of Jane Fonda sitting on an anti-aircraft gun in North Vietnam, hasn’t been debunked.

  4. You are dead wrong. They made a business decision. They had every intention of showing the film until it became a possible security issue. If they were anti-Israel or Pro-Hamas, they would have never agreed to it in the first place. I’m sorry that you can’t comprehend what I wrote regarding Jane Fonda so I’ll explain it in the simplest terms. I was highlighting the fact that Christine is unwilling or incapable of critical thinking or understanding nuance. She used long-debunked assertions that Jane Fonda handed over messages from U.S. POW’s to the North Vietnamese. I politely told her that despite what Fonda did (and has since apologized for) she never turned POW messages over. It was a smear used by her haters to make her look as bad as possible. Christine was offended that someone would correct her and instead of admitting her error and lack of proper research, she started calling me names and saying that I am a communist sympathizer and that I hate veterans. This is how anti-intellectuals maneuver. With non-sensical deflection. No matter how much you love / respect Christine, she perpetually shows what a hateful, ignoramus she is and if that’s ok with you, well, enjoy living in that world.

  5. “Resolution on Margaret’s approach to comments for Christine Flower’s articles, addressing Nancy’s, Susan’s, and George’s thoughts, and finding clarity about Israel, Jews, and Jane Fonda”
    Whereas Liberty+Broad makes the word “respectful” parenthetical. despite “respectful” originating from Old French respect and directly from Latin respectus “regard, a looking at,” literally “act of looking back (or often) at one,” noun use of past participle of respicere “look back at, regard, consider,” from re- “back” (see re-) + specere “look at” (from PIE root *spek- “to observe”). From late 15c. as “an aspect of a thing, a relative property or quality,” hence “point, detail, particular feature” (1580s). The meanings “feeling of esteem excited by actions or attributes of someone or something; courteous or considerate treatment due to personal worth or power” are by 1580s now, therefore, be it:
    Resolved, that these commentators and others, on behalf of Liberty+Broad:
    1. Shall acquaint themselves with the following facts: The Kennedy brothers were focused on reducing the influence of the American Zionist Council by the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938. In October 1963, Attorney General Robert Kennedy gave the AZC a 72-hour notice to register as a “foreign agent.” After John Kennedy’s assassination, the AZC escaped this procedure, and its lobbying division, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (or AIPAC), became the most powerful lobby in the United Staters, and an indispensable tool for the corruption and intimidation of American elected officials, and for the control of American foreign policy. President Kennedy showed support for the Palestinian cause as well as sympathy for Egyptian President Abdel Nasser. As late as November 20, 1963, Kennedy’s representative at the United Nations demanded the implementation of Resolution 194 and the return of the 800,000 Palestinian refugees, causing strong protest in Israeli circles. After Kennedy’s death, American foreign policy in West Asia was radically reversed again, without the American public realizing it. Johnson cut economic aid to Egypt and increased military aid to Israel to $92mm in 1966, more than the total of all previous years combined.
    Mover: Michael
    Seconder: Sweeney
    Final Version: 4.11.2024 – 12:16 AM

    1. If this really was the stance Kennedy (JFK) took, then I think he had stars in his eyes. Yes, I am somewhat sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. but the over-riding issue here is a clash of cultures. one an advanced Western culture with at least democratic intentions at its heart, and the other a far more primitive, militant, and even irrational culture that thinks the only answer to its objections to Israel’s being where it is, is terrorism. Sometimes, one needs to make reasonable value judgments about different cultures, and doing so is not always ethnocentrism. All cultures are not of equal value, frankly, in terms of their development and potential for peaceful coexistence, a fact you seem to ignore. Thus, Christine has a point. The film should have been shown, especially since it likely does not even comment on the current situation or the conflict that led up to it.

  6. In all the fuss, sound and fury the underlying issue is the existence of Jews and infidels. Radical Islam is fixated on eliminating the existence of Jews and any form of non-believer. This is the sine qua non for organizations such as HAMAS, ISIS-K etc. No matter how many overlays of political or cultural issues there are, their elimination would not solve the underlying conflict. I do not think that rearranging geography or political systems will end the conflict and, sad to say, I have no solutions to the problem to suggest. At this point it is my belief that “just because the cat had her kittens in the oven, doesn’t make them biscuits.”

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